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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man guilty of murder in beating death at Salmon Creek-area motel

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: June 12, 2023, 3:54pm

A Clark County Superior Court jury convicted a Vancouver man Friday of second-degree murder in the January beating death of another man in a Salmon Creek-area motel.

The jury returned the guilty verdict against Jonathan D. Smith, 39, after nearly four hours of deliberation. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 23.

Smith claimed self-defense in the Jan. 27 attack at the Sunnyside Motel, 12200 N.E. Highway 99.

The victim, Roger Hudyma, 58, died from blunt- and sharp-force head injuries, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office. His death was ruled a homicide, meaning it resulted from another person’s deliberate action; the ruling does not make any judgments about criminal culpability. The autopsy report also noted Hudyma suffered from severe coronary artery disease and methamphetamine use.

In his opening statement, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jeff McCarty said Smith told law enforcement that Hudyma was raping his girlfriend. But only Smith and Hudyma were in the room when Clark County sheriff’s deputies arrived. McCarty also said deputies found Smith with blood on his face, hands and arms, but he had only minor injuries.

A deputy testified after opening statements that Hudyma’s face was unrecognizable and disfigured after the beating. He and another deputy described moving Hudyma out of the bathroom to perform CPR because the floor was too slick with blood for them to provide aid.

Deputies responded shortly after 9 p.m. for a report of a disturbance in Room 31 at the motel. The caller said he heard his neighbors fighting, and someone was screaming to call the police, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

After deputies knocked, the door opened and Smith, with blood on his face and hands, crawled out. Deputies said Smith looked up at his girlfriend — who was standing with the 911 caller — and said, “He was trying to rape you, he was raping you,” the affidavit states.

Smith’s girlfriend told investigators Hudyma had picked up the couple from a friend’s trailer and brought them to their motel room. Hudyma came inside and got into the shower, she said. She was at the motel office, she said, when she heard screaming and returned to the room, according to the affidavit.

She saw Hudyma lying on the bathroom floor with Smith on top of him. She believed Hudyma was having a seizure and that Smith was helping him. She then saw Hudyma’s eye looked swollen, she said, and told Smith they needed an ambulance, court records say.